The scientists of the MacDiarmid Institute are committed to playing a leading role in driving cultural change in New Zealand-led, science-focussed innovation. We provide an educational environment that produces leading science innovators and entrepreneurs, and use the strength of our partnerships to go beyond what any individual institution in New Zealand can achieve and proposes mechanisms to harness our basic science for the economic development of New Zealand. Find out more about The MacDiarmid Institute’s mission to advance a new future for New Zealand


MacDiarmid Institute supports tech-transfer with new Internship

For most new companies, getting the right staff on board is important.  For high-tech start-up companies, it is vital. The smooth transfer of technology from a research institution can be a challenge for a new company. This was a problem facing Hi-Aspect, a new MacDiarmid start-up that had developed protein-based nanomaterial for use in skincare […]


Pitch on a Peak – NZ tech investments

New Zealand hosted a major event in the technology investment world this month, with the Asian Business Angels Forum 2015 taking place in Queenstown (October 14-16). The forum drew over 150 angel investors from around the world. A centrepiece was ‘Pitch on a Peak’ – a showcase of NZ tech investment opportunities ranging from early […]


What Industry Wants

At certain times of year, usually when a grant round has been announced, academics will pick up the phone and ring people in industry to drum up support for their applications.


Industry Tiki Tours, November 2014

 Auckland – story by Dr Geoff Willmott A handful of curious MacDiarmid Institute students from Auckland and Canterbury participated in the inaugural MESA and MacDiarmid “Industry Tiki Tour”. This involved site visits to three exporting manufacturers in Auckland, in addition to a presentation from Rocket Lab. First stop was Buckley Systems, so we jumped on […]


Ojas Mahapatra Appointed CEO

Dr  Ojas Mahapatra, who recently finished his doctorate in Physics at University of Canterbury, has been offered the role of the CEO of a Dunedin based company Photonic Innovations Ltd. He was supervised and mentored by Prof Simon Brown in his doctoral research. Photonic Innovations Ltd is a spin-out company from University of Otago that […]


Get Off The Grass!

  In “Get Off The Grass!” (Auckland University Press) Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan take a quantitative look at how innovation works both in New Zealand and around the world. They show that economic geography plays a key role in determining rates of innovation and productivity. If New Zealand is to grow its economy more rapidly […]


Million Dollar Boost

Hands up if you think it’s high time someone came up with a battery that’s cheaper and more sustainable than the ones you can currently buy? A research team at Massey University has been awarded nearly $1 million to do just that. SOURCE: Further Reading: Long Life In Battery Development Futher Reading: Simon Hall: […]


Sector Pins Hopes on Golden Fleece

A golden yarn developed by Kiwi scientists and containing pure gold is expected to be sold to wealthy buyers of luxury carpets, rugs and furnishings.  Unlike the golden fleece in Greek mythology the yarn and completed woollen products will not have a golden colour at this stage. The Aulana-branded wool has been developed by Professor […]


Bright Ideas Funding

Background A freshly formed “bright idea” is often very delicate and it needs time to develop before it enters a rigorous selection process. MacDiarmid Institute Bright Ideas funding is designed to responsively support early stage ideas with a maximum of flexibility and a minimum of bureaucracy. We want to support “bright ideas” to the stage […]


Surviving the Dragons Den!

The MacDiarmid Institute is full of great ideas but……… how do you take the next step to making them a commercial realty? Yiwen, Ben and Alec were fortunate to be able to do this in a MacDiarmid sponsored initiative.  Each of them took an Institute idea along to a University of Canterbury MEM (Master of […]


Commercialisation of protein science

The goal of the programme is to set up an integrated research programme across BIC and IRL that is connected to Industry. Juliet’s Fellowship resources include a postdoctoral fellow and two PhD students, all based at the IRL campus in Lower Hutt. She spends 50% of her time at each institution. The new Protein Science […]

MESA Chair Wins Chiasma Prize

“My proposal to commercialise a scanned nanopipette system, a prototype of which I built during the course of my PhD research, won the special $2000 Chiasma prize. This is given out for the best research idea with potential biotech applications, as awarded by the University of Auckland’s Spark Entrepreneurship Ideas Challenge. “I was greatly assisted by Dr. […]


Callaghan Fellowships

The Sir Paul Callaghan Innovation Fellowships Sir Paul was passionate about taking research from the lab bench into the market place. These Fellowships recognise Sir Paul’s passion and commitment by giving an opportunity for academics to directly pursue commercialisation opportunities. Prof Simon Brown, the Institute’s Deputy Director (Commercialisation and Industry Engagement), said “while many academics […]


MacDiarmid Institute and Creative HQ on quest for new high-tech companies

This programme will focus on new Intellectual Property (IP) and product opportunities that are emerging from the various streams of specialised research being undertaken by the MacDiarmid Institute, which is spread across NZ’s five leading universities, and the Crown Research Institutes; Industrial Research Limited and Geological and Nuclear Sciences. The MacDiarmid Institute comprises 40 Principal […]


Green Science – Jonathan Halpert

Story by Veronika Meduna With demand for solar energy on the rise globally, Jonathan Halpert is well positioned to make an impact. A lecturer at Victoria University’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and an Associate Investigator of the MacDiarmid Institute, Dr Halpert was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship—which means up to $800,000 over five […]


Starting To Gel – Hanton and Moratti

Story by Ruth Beran “I never thought I’d be doing anything commercial” says University of Otago’s Professor Lyall Hanton. “I thought that maybe the system I was developing might be used. Or my research might have an application in a hundred years’ time, but I never thought that I would actually do anything useful in […]

Desi Ramoo – Innovation Agent

There are more than seventy MacDiarmid Institute researchers around the country, burrowing away at the frontiers of knowledge. Their fundamental research is uncovering secrets to bend the rules of modern life and shape our future. But when they are burrowing this deep, it can be easy to forget their reasons for starting in the first […]

Alumni: Cosmin Laslau – Evaluating energy ideas

When Cosmin Laslau was at school, nanotechnology was an up and coming area of science receiving large amounts of publicity. Being tremendously excited by the opportunities, as well as being young and impressionable, he started down the nanotechnology research path. His career has been a mix of study, research and commercialisation, skills he now uses as a Research Analyst at Lux […]

Alumni: Ojas Mahapatra – Photonic Innovations

Ojas Mahapatra is one of those enviable people who gets paid to do what he loves. In 2013, he became the CEO of Photonic Innovations, a spin-out company from the University of Otago which is commercialising gas detectors for industries where levels of potentially toxic gases need to be monitored. The technology was developed by Professor Andrew Wilson and uses […]


Biominerals to bones

Anybody in need of joint replacement surgery will appreciate the options modern medicine provides, but if Kate McGrath has her way, future patients won’t require any screws or other metal parts in their new hips or knees. The director of the MacDiarmid Institute and her research team are borrowing ideas from nature to develop innovative […]

From trash to treasure

There are thousands of different types of proteins— probably millions—collectively capable of carrying out a huge number of complex processes, and yet they are all made out of just 20 building blocks.    ANTONY said it of Cleopatra—but the same could be said of proteins—‘custom cannot stale their infinite variety’. There are thousands of different […]

OPINION: A small, advanced economy?

  I BORROW this title from a Statistics New Zealand commentary, which points out that in terms of the title we are probably not so advanced, despite a regular programme of government-to-government meetings with these economies with which we might like to be compared. As Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan’s 2013 book Get off the […]


Speeding up science

WELLINGTON-based startup Publons took its name from a nerdy physics joke about the academic publishing industry. According to the joke, the elusive ‘publon’ is the elementary particle of scientific publication, but the academic publishing business is no laughing matter. Co-founder of Publons, Andrew Preston, says the industry is big. “Last year 1.6 million journal articles […]


Water for the world

Keoni Mahelona wants to ‘provide water for the world’. “If water is the next commodity, I don’t want greedy companies owning it in the future,” he says. Mahelona has experienced firsthand what water scarcity is like. “I’ve lived in the Far North and I know that families do run out of water, every summer for […]


Focused on the human equation

As a PhD Student, David Melville worked at The MacDiarmid Institute with Professor Richard Blaikie investigating photolithography. He has recently shifted into the field of what IBM call Cognitive Computing.   AS A PhD STUDENT, David Melville worked at The MacDiarmid Institute with Professor Richard Blaikie investigating photolithography—the process by which computer chips are made. […]

Simon Hall – Passive Student, Active Scientist

  Simon Hall, specialist in the use of electrochemistry for energy storage applications at Massey University, describes himself as having been a “passive student.” He was born into a family that valued science, with his father having completed a chemistry MSc at Victoria University a few years behind Alan MacDiarmid. Simon’s father worked in industry […]

Protecting Teeth With Silver

  Since arriving in New Zealand three years ago I have had the pleasure of participating in two AMN conferences. This year I was once again impressed by the high caliber of the conference, and thoroughly inspired by dynamic presentations from prominent scientists in the fields of materials science and nanotechnology. The collaborative spirit of […]

Energy, Emulating Leaves and an Emmy Nomination

  Professor Daniel Nocera thinks that if the world behaved more like scientists, there’d be less war – everyone would see themselves as the part of the world, rather than individual countries. Nocera’s long and illustrious career has seen him work with many promising young scientists who now work in laboratories around the world creating […]

The Buzz of Business

  Eight years ago, PhD student Sam Yu was inspired by a seminar on entrepreneurship organised by Bill Swallow as part of the Growth Industry Pilot Initiative to build enterprise culture in Lincoln University and the University of Canterbury. “It really made me feel passionate about doing the hands-on aspects of science,” Yu recalls. This […]

From Molecules to the Market

Taking single molecules and tethering them to a surface to produce highly controllable functions as the basis for precision sensors, medical diagnostic tools or even lighting arrays may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but the groundwork is being tackled in the University of Canterbury lab of Dr Alison Downard. The MacDiarmid Institute Principal […]

Long Life In Battery Development

  The humble battery may seem a bit prosaic for an organisation called the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, but research into battery technology, and the underlying science, has been a part of the MacDiarmid Institute since its founding. Before it’s founding, in fact, as Alan MacDiarmid himself gained a Nobel Prize in […]

The Long, Winding Road that is Commercialisation

  It’s long been a given that New Zealand needs to pay close attention to the commercialisation of research in order to build successful, innovative companies that can take resulting products and services to the world. However, it’s a lot easier to say that, than to do it. Looking back over the past 10 years […]

What to do with Chemistry

It was a sense of adventure that led Eva Weatherall to study science at university, rather than law like all her school friends, or medicine like her father. “I wanted to do something where I didn’t quite know where I was going to end up,” she said. Now, three and a half years later, the […]

A Culture of Commercialisation

In general, I see my role as being to facilitate commercialization activity in the Institute, and to build a culture of commercialisation.  I’m not going to be doing the commercialisation in the sense of starting companies and writing business plans but, hopefully, I can help put structures and networks in place to support people who want […]

New Company Registered

Synthodics Ltd was registered on 17 June 2011. This new spin-out company was formed to commercialise intellectual property arising from a research programme at Massey University led by Simon Hall. Since September 2009, Simon had been working withhis colleagues, Mark Waterland (MacDiarmid Institute Associate Investigator) and Gareth Rowlands, on some new concepts for use in […]

Collaborating – a CoRE Issue

At first glance, there would seem to be little to connect a hi-tech nanotechnology-focused research centre with another concentrating on agri-foods, but look again.     Over the past three to four years, the MacDiarmid and the Riddet Institutes have worked together, sharing personnel and equipment to bring fundamental physical research on materials and structures […]

Peering Inside Nanopores

“We make money from invisible holes.  But we can’t afford to be invisible.” Hans van der Voorn, Executive Chairman of nanotechnology start-up firm Izon, spreads out a series of brochures highlighting his company’s brightly-coloured, cheerful-looking devices, each housing its trademark nanopore technology. “We made a conscious decision not to have any grey instruments. It’s a little unusual, […]

Is it possible to make money from science in New Zealand?

  “As I sail my boat in Auckland harbour and look at the skyline of the central business district I don’t see any businesses based on science,” said entrepreneur Dr Brett Wells at the recent MacDiarmid symposium. “What I see are mostly service industries. Without the big technology companies or venture capitalists, like they have […]

Sensitive New Age chemistry

  Sometimes, a very small amount of something can have a big effect. Minute traces of contraceptive estrogen in waterways can affect fish, toxins from algal blooms can cause shellfish to become dangerous to eat, and bacteria in air conditioning can lead to Legionnaire’s disease. A major issue has been finding a way to detect something […]